Input/output device

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope
USB flash drive

Alternatively referred to as an IO device, an input/output device is any hardware used by a human operator or other systems to communicate with a computer. As the name suggests, input/output devices are capable of sending data (output) to a computer and receiving data from a computer (input).

Examples of input/output devices


See our input device and output device definitions for a list of each type of device.

What are I/O device errors?

Because most hardware devices do not require an input and output communication with the computer, most IO devices are storage devices. So, when you encounter an I/O error or I/O device error it's an indication that the operating system cannot read or write to a device.

Reasons why you may get an IO device error

  • Write protection is enabled. For example, if write-protection on an SD card.
  • Trying to write to a disc that is not writable. For example, trying to burn to a CD and not a CD-R disc.
  • No more disk space.
  • The file is being used by another user or program on the computer.
  • Not enough rights or permissions to read or write.
  • No physical or virtual connection.
  • Bad or missing drivers preventing the drive from being accessed.
  • Failing or bad hardware.

What can fix I/O errors?

Depending on what device is giving you the I/O error can change how to troubleshoot these errors. If you are not certain what device is giving you the error, follow the general troubleshooting steps. Otherwise, try following the specific steps for the device giving you the error.

IO error

General troubleshooting for I/O errors

  1. Reboot the computer.
  2. Make sure you have all of the latest drivers for your devices.
  3. If you are using Microsoft Windows, make sure there are no errors in Device Manager.
  4. If you have recently moved the computer, open the computer and make sure the cables inside the computer are firmly connected.

Troubleshooting I/O errors with removable media

With removable media such as a floppy diskette, CDs, or SD cards I/O errors may be occurring because the removable media you are using has failed. The best way to quickly determine if this is the cause is to try an alternative. For example, if you are getting an I/O error with a disc, try another disc in the computer to see if you get the same error. If the same error occurs, then you have a problem with the drive. If you can read another disc with no errors, then it may be a bad or dirty disc.

If you are using a removable media such as a floppy diskette or SD card, make sure it is not write protected if you are trying to write information to the diskette or card.

If you are trying to burn (write) information to a CD-R disc, make sure you are using a new disc. If the disc was closed, you cannot write any more information to that disc.

Troubleshooting I/O errors occurring when accessing a network file

Any I/O error encountered when trying to read or write a file over the network is caused by either a permission error or a connection issue. Make sure your connection works by trying to read/write another file in a different location. If the connection appears to be good, then it is likely you either lack the proper rights or the file is in use and is locked.

CPU, Device, Hardware terms, Input, Keyboard, Output